David Bazan [I]Fewer Moving Parts[/I]

It’s apparent that the excellence of song craft wasn’t trapped in the ‘Pedro the Lion’ moniker; David Bazan comes out of the gate, let loosed from his band name, with as much introspection and cleverness as he left us with on his prior releases as Pedro and ‘Headphones’.

Bazan’s voice as an ironic commentator should never be overlooked; he has the ability to fully render the terrible things of the world with complete honesty and with little degrading humor—these songs are no different; you should hate the narrators, but you’re more moved and upset at the moment in which we live than you are disturbed by his off-the-cuff style. The opener track, ‘Selling Advertising (Making it, Faking it, Breaking It)’, is rife with both a slight attack on reviewers and self-attack on Christians, and being in a band. Later tracks like ‘Fewer Broken Pieces (Cake and Eat it, Too)’ are centered around self-referencing; why he went solo, in an ironic sense—putting the title of the album (and song) in light: “Fewer moving parts means fewer broken pieces’.

Is that true? Weren’t a few Pedro releases written and produced by Bazan alone, pretty much?

The tracks are just as catchy and well recorded as all of the Pedro tracks, but, really, since ‘Control’, I’ve been a little wary: when Achilles’ Heel came out, I was saddened by the loss of a cohesive story line. As a result, I didn’t get to know the album nearly as well as I did ‘Winners Never Quit’.

But here we have classic Bazan in a new start—the quality of the songs is high enough for you to forget the whole preconceived Pedro train of thought, which is what ‘Heel’ sort of lacked. That album had some pretty good tracks, but nothing terribly stand-out when considering the past (except, maybe, Bands with Managers). This ep? All of the tracks are stand out.

Cold Beer and Cigarettes (The Devil is Beating his Wife) is my favorite track on the disc—it’s both Headphones techy and Pedro catchy, all while retaining Bazan’s trademark narratives; the tale of a ‘white ghost’ who is on a bender, seeking sex, culminating in the most perfect verse of all time:

‘it’s faster to buy cigarettes and cold bear
if you don’t rattle the cashier
by asking her back to your room

she’s calling security’

The perfect bender mix-tape song. Slap that on with a few tracks from Black Out, and you’re set to drink yourself into hibernation.

The final track on the ep is staunchly political in standard Bazan fashion—blatant and mocking, that is to say. Backwoods Nation (Speeding the Collapse) discusses the state of our nation in a perfectly dark fashion. No one else on Earth could sing ‘camel fuckers’ and pull it off. Thank God Bazan lives on Earth.

I’m not sure that the acoustic version (of all the songs) that follow the rock versions are necessary, but they’re nice—I think it may have worked better if they were downloadable upon purchase of the album (remember how Heel had those tracks you could get with your ‘secret code’?), but it’s a good illustration of Bazan’s flexibility as a singer/songwriter—the vocals are mixed differently, and all the rocking parts are performed muted. Fun stuff.

Former Pedro The Lion Members Releasing New Records

hile Jade Tree digitally re-released Pedro The Lion’s Tour EP 2004 earlier this month, the recently broken-up band’s two members have new projects of their own on the way.

David Bazan is releasing a solo EP titled Fewer Moving Parts on June 13. Two different versions of five Bazan songs will be on the EP — one acoustic and one with full instrumentation. "Backwoods Nation" is the only track that’s been previously released, having appeared on the Jade Tree compilation, Location Is Everything Vol. 1.

Bazan performed and recorded Fewer Moving Parts by himself in his home studio and former Low bassist turned graphic novelist Zak Sally provided the artwork. The album is available for pre-order now through Bazan’s website and will also be sold on tour.

Bazan will make two stops in Canada during his upcoming solo tour: June 17 at Toronto’s Music Gallery and June 18 at Montreal’s Mile End Cultural Centre.

Before returning to the studio to work on a full-length solo release that’s tentatively scheduled for a spring 2007 release, Bazan will tour with his electronic project Headphones and the recently formed collective, Undertow Orchestra. Headphones, which consists of Bazan and drummer Frank Lenz, has released one self-titled album and will be playing some dates in the U.S. this summer.

The Undertow Orchestra — made up of Bazan, Vic Chesnutt, Mark Eitzel of American Music Club and Centro-matic’s Will Johnson and Scott Danbom — will tour Europe in June.

Pedro The Lion’s other half, TM Walsh, will release his own EP under the band name The Soft Drugs on his new Tower Of Song Label. The Soft Drugs In Moderation includes guest contributions from Bazan, members of Crystal Skulls and Sufjan Stevens’ band. It’s available for pre-order through Walsh’s MySpace site, where MP3 samples can also be found. It should also be available for purchase from iTunes as of June 6.

News From The Great Beyond

It’s official. Pedro the Lion’s Dave Bazan is roaring back into action. The beloved songwriter has been buried in his home studio crafting a follow up to Achilles Heel. Now sans the PTL moniker, Bazan has redrafted a tour/internet only EP that he will sell on the road and via his site. The EP, entitled Fewer Moving Parts, finds Bazan going back to his musical roots, performing and recording all the music by himself. The EP will have two different versions of five new Bazan songs. One version will be stripped down acoustic and another version will have full-instrumentation. Acclaimed graphic novel artist Zak Sally [Low] is creating the artwork for the EP. Bazan will also tour on the eastern half of the country in June. Meanwhile Pedro the Lion’s 2004 tour EP is available through digital outlets. The EP deatures PTL originals as well as three covers.

SXSW Hits and Sleepers, Saturday’s Picks: David Bazan

12:45am, Emo’s Jr. It’s been nearly two years since Pedro the Lion’s gorgeous, near-perfect Achilles Heel (Jade Tree) hit shelves. Since then, Seattle frontman David Bazan has devoted time to his all-synthesizer side project Headphones and has just gotten off the road with the Undertow Orchestra, a live, four-way musical conversation featuring Bazan, Mark Eitzel, Vic Chesnutt, and Will Johnson.


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Enter by sending an email with the following information to [EMAIL]contests@jadetree.com[/EMAIL]

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Be sure to write ‘Bazan Contest’ in the subject line.

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Pedro the Lion Call It Quits

File this one under splits, amicable: multi-instrumentalist TW Walsh has opted to leave Pedro the Lion, the longstanding, vaguely Christian, vaguely emo rock project of songwriter David Bazan. The Walsh-less Bazan plans to soldier on under his own name, shelving the Lion moniker for the indefinite future. First Aslan and now Pedro– it ain’t easy being king of the jungle these days.

It’s all gravy between these bros, though. According to a press release, Walsh had the following to say about the split: "Dave and I are still buddies. I wish him the best, and I know that he’ll continue to thrive and grow as an artist on his own…I think his best work is still ahead of him. As for me, I’m thankful for all the experiences that my tenure with the band provided, but I am sure that this was the right decision for me and my family." Best of luck to you, T-dub.

Walsh plans to make an epic return to his career as a software engineer and will continue work on his own music project, christened The Soft Drugs. Meanwhile, Bazan plans to release his first solo record in early 2007 via Jade Tree and will reprise his side project Headphones shortly after that. (Walsh, who contributed to Headphones’ 2005 debut album, is also no longer part of that group.)

As reported yesterday, Bazan will join forces with fellow troubadours Will Johnson (Centro-matic, South San Gabriel), Mark Eitzel (American Music Club), and Vic Chesnutt (his own damn self) to form the Voltron-esque touring entity known as the Undertow Orchestra, which will head out on the road in February. Bazan will also play a couple of solo in late January.

Winners never quit:

David Bazan solo:

01-25 Columbia, SC – University of South Carolina
01-26 Seattle, WA – Neumos *

* with Ester Drang

Undertow Orchestra Tour:

02-08 Athens, GA – 40 Watt Club
02-09 Carrboro, NC – Carrboro Arts Center
02-10 Arlington, VA – IOTA
02-11 Arlington, VA – IOTA
02-12 Philadelphia, PA – World Café Live
02-13 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
02-14 Boston, MA – Museum of Fine Arts, Remis Auditorium
02-16 Grand Rapids, MI – Calvin College, Fine Arts Center
02-17 Chicago, IL – Park West
02-18 Madison, WI – Orpheum Stage Door
02-19 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
02-20 Ames, IA – Maintenance Shop
02-21 Lawrence, KS – The Granada
02-23 Denton, TX – Hailey’s
02-24 Austin, TX – The Parish
02-25 Houston, TX – Walter’s on Washington
02-27 Memphis, TN – Hi-Tone
02-28 Nashville, TN – Belcourt Theatre
03-01 Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse


PEDRO THE LION’s TW Walsh has decided to leave the band and take his life in a different direction, returning to his career as a software engineer. "Dave and I are still buddies," says Walsh, "I wish him the best, and I know that he’ll continue to thrive and grow as an artist on his own…I think his best work is still ahead of him. As for me, I’m thankful for all the experiences that my tenure with the band provided, but I am sure that this was the right decision for me and my family."

With TW’s departure, Bazan has decided to drop the PEDRO THE LION moniker and forge ahead under his own name. This is not to say that the PEDRO THE LION name will never be used again. But for now there will be no new releases or touring using the band name.

Bazan plans to work on a new studio album in the spring and summer that will be released by Jade Tree in early 2007. Says label co-owner Darren Walters, "I’m excited that David Bazan will continue to make music with jade tree, no matter what moniker that he chooses. David is a talented artist and has a unique perspective lyrically. I’m positive that whatever he creates, it will be nothing short of spectacular."

TW will continue work on his new project, , and will release a debut sometime in 2006.

In related news: David Bazan, Vic Chesnutt, Mark Eitzel (American Music Club), and Will Johnson (Centro-matic, South San Gabriel) will be touring together as the Undertow Orchestra in February. They’ll all be on stage together, taking turns performing songs while the others back them up on various instruments. Don’t miss your chance to see these four amazing artists perform together for the first time.